Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Born Elaine Bickerstaff in the spring of 1951, Elaine Paige would go on to be one of the most recognizable names in theater. She attended the Aida Foster Drama School as she was growing up, preparing her lovely singing voice for musical theater. In the early '70s, she started acting in various London productions, getting small roles in Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, and finally landing the lead in Grease (opposite an unknown Richard Gere). She eventually quit musical theater to try her hand at television. Her role on the soap Crossroads was hardly memorable, so when she had the chance to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita she jumped at the opportunity. It was a huge smash, leading to many awards and a 20-month run as the lead character. She left to try and start a pop career, but her first effort, Sitting Pretty, hardly made a dent on the pop charts. Still, her theater success landed her another high-profile role in Webber's Cats and a concert hall performance at Royal Festival Hall, both enormous successes. Her eponymous sophomore album was mildly more successful than the last, but it was a series of albums released in the middle of the '80s that brought her the most success. Stages, Cinema, and Love Hurts were all popular efforts that made the Top Ten in the U.K., and her efforts in Tim Rice's Chess led to a hit single, "I Know Him So Well."
Her release schedule only became more frantic as the years went by: she put out albums almost yearly and performed in several huge productions for the British stage including Piaf, Anything Goes, and Sunset Boulevard. When Sunset Boulevard came to New York in 1996, it was her first time on Broadway. She was met with much critical admiration, and brought her considerable talents to a television special for the BBC called A South Bank Show. The special showed her visiting different parts of the world where her plays had been set, and performing songs there in character. It was soon after this that she was showered with awards from critic collectives, theatrical organizations, and even the Queen of England for her years of service to the British theater. She spent the second half of the '90s performing at many tribute and benefit concerts, as well as her first major non-singing role on the stage, The Misanthrope. Her recording schedule slowed down considerably after 1998. In 2000, she started on a successful run of The King and I and began work on a second duet album with Barbara Dickson. Next came a revival of the 1971 James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, with Paige playing the central role of Carlotta Campion. The cast recording for the musical appeared on CD late in 2011.